Enygma Ventures is widening its net to reach passionate women entrepreneurs in the entire SADC region. The women-led VC firm was established by two successful women entrepreneurs who now invest in women entrepreneurs in Southern Africa.
Launched in October 2019 has invested $3.5 million in 10 businesses in South Africa, Zambia and Eswatini, making them one of Africa’s most active investors for 2020. This year it aims to invest in even more women with a big target on key SADC markets such as Malawi and Tanzania.
“We are industry agnostic, which means we invest in any sector where women are thriving. We are passionate about driving progressive change on the African continent.” says Lelemba Phiri, Enygma Ventures’ operating partner.
By focusing on African women, the fund led by these driven investors, aims to make the world a more equal place – one investment at a time.
The team believes that there is no shortage of talent on the continent, just capital and people to bridge the gap to help women understand what it takes to grow big businesses. The fund’s aim is to close that gap. Having both been successful entrepreneurs themselves in the past, their experiences catapulted them into becoming investors.
“We want to widen our net this year as our fund mandate covers all 16 countries in the SADC region. This quarter we are particularly looking to increase participation from key markets like Tanzania and Malawi which have in the past recorded fewer VC investments, yet have exciting opportunities.” says Phiri, who is also a chartered accountant and a development finance expert.
“With just a fraction of global venture funds being deployed across the continent, Africa is an extraordinary opportunity. We established Enygma because we wanted to tackle inequality through 3 lenses – gender, race and geography. Thus investing diversely, not only from a gender perspective but also a race and geography perspective, was important to us,” says Sarah Dusek, co-founder and managing partner of Enygma Ventures.
“My own experience as a female entrepreneur-led me to become an investor as raising capital is hard in itself and 1000% harder as a female, raising capital outside of Silicon Valley. The lack of access to capital and the huge potential of the continent makes Africa an obvious venture capital opportunity. Combined with the fact that globally women are overlooked and underfunded, we knew we could make a difference by mobilizing women, funding their talent and using our own experiences of growing and scaling businesses to help women here excel.” says Dusek.
Enygma Ventures is more than just a financial investor, it also supports its portfolio companies to foster faster growth post-investment.
While cutting her teeth as a young entrepreneur in Africa, Phiri saw first-hand how women struggled as entrepreneurs through no fault of their own.
“Before becoming an investor, I was part of a Fintech that successfully scaled a business across 5 African markets and raised over $30million in funding and so it was quite odd to not see many more women entrepreneurs at important tables. Where I saw women, they usually had very small businesses and their access to financing was usually very limited. Sometimes it was just because they had no idea where to go, how to apply, what language the investors were speaking and other times they would be some obvious biases from investors, who assumed that women only required small loans and not larger tickets and other types of funding.”
Enygma Ventures runs calls for applications for investment three times a year. Shortlisted entrepreneurs are supported through investor readiness programs and others that might not be ready are given scholarships to programs run by Africa’s number 1 practical business school www.startupcircles.ai.
The programs gives them the right knowledge about what is required for an investor to be interested in their businesses.